One of my fields of interest, which I more or less created, is what I call “The Psychology of Super Heroes”. Years ago as a student I created my own elective, “The Psychology of S&M” and this seems to be the logical follow-up to that.
“…Experiencing the id and ego engaged in a mating-dance while super-ego directs…” sums it all up brilliantly. You’ve touched a primal nerve with that one.
I have to admit, I’m not a big comic book guy. I prefer newspaper strips and then vintage Dick Tracy and Krazy Kat. I grew up reading underground comix while my friends all read super Hero stuff and nowadays it’s mostly the cartoons in the New Yorker.
Because the symbolism of ‘human-animal-god’ is so basic and instinctual it remains perennial in popular culture but few people seriously ask why, and when they ask, they can’t comprehend the answer.
Look at Holidays: Halloween (alter-egos, monsters, the supernatural), Christmas (the birth of a savior), fireworks (the celebration of war). Our entire culture consists of Idols, heroes, villains and super villains, robots and beauty queens.
My friend, who is also a big Kierkegaard guy, remarked last night on the nature of the struggle being eternal, which is perhaps the healthiest view, as in Japanese Shinto, which has no apocalyptic scenario. Which I’m sure is why some of Japanese pop culture’s most enduring images emerged from the ashes of nuclear devastation.
I think Jung influenced Moulton in his rejection of Freud. In Moulton’s psychology dominance and submission replaced the infantile Oedipus complex. Just as the super hero Superman parallels the Nazi idea of The Superman, Moulton’s ideas of bondage and slavery parallel but do not correspond to the more heinous associations we have with those terms.
Super heroes are invincible and fly through the air, just as do angels, demons, and fairies, but do not correspond in exact psychic terms with those mytho-historical entities. Where they do correspond is in the perimeters of the collective consciousness where all of these beings and states coexist. That collective consciousness is neither Heaven nor Hell because all religions and mythologies are subsumed into it into a single psychic conglomerate.
Christianity and Islam are the only two religions with martyred heroes. You have to go back to ancient cultures like the Aztecs, etc., with virgin sacrifices for anything similar.
What Norse, Greek and even Jewish mythology reveal is that mythology is truly a mirror in that it is a tale told backwards, a flashback (as we say of film noir) that starts at the end and works its way to the beginning. Destruction comes first: in Greek myth the Olympians utterly defeat the Titans before creation even begins; Satan falls from heaven eons before God created the earth.
Piss on me and I’ll piss on you. Wait, that’s something else entirely, but maybe not! Good pulp fiction is artistic and well considered; thought through and executed with finesse like fine art.
Sophisticated and poetic yes, but to be cinematic there has to be an element of voyeuristic exhibitionism, a show, a spectacle: the gun going BANG! in the dark, the flash of the report, a scream, another BANG!; and then another!; A dying groan, the dead weight of a body landing to the floor, perhaps making a noise as things crash along with it. Inevitably sirens rise in the distance.
The hot breath of the girl and the feel of her well formed chest heaving with relief as she flings herself into the arms of her hero, his strong arm embracing her, the smell of gunpowder. The sense of safety and security in his arms but also the tingling thrill that danger still lurks nearby and the heated anticipation of rewarding him for his bravado, later that night when she can let her hair down and show him how he makes her pale skin ripple and their pulses race to a firm and exciting climax.